Trump is starting to look desperate
Since I do believe that President Trump no longer has a path to the White House – a longshot to the GOP nomination, but not in a General Election — the only question is why is he running?
There are two possibilities to consider. The first is that he actually believes he can win. That would make him arguably delusional. He has never won a popular vote. And even if you dispute the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, he did not come out a winner – and he failed to prove that the outcome was overturned by election chicanery where it matters – in a court-of-law.
In the 2016 primaries, most Republican voters cast ballots for someone other than Trump. In that year, there is no dispute that most Americans voted for Hillary Clinton – while Trump won the all-important Electoral College vote.
In 2018, Republicans lost control of the House in what was developing as a growing anti-Trump wave. He made every election about him – and Democrats were more than happy to oblige. True … that is what often happens to first term presidents, but there was a strong anti-Trump vote in 2018
In 2020, Republicans lost the Senate and the White House. Whatever you may believe about the presidential race, the GOP lost races it could have – and should have – won. Again, Trump seemed to be a drag on the ticket.
The 2022 Midterm Election was an unprecedented disaster for Republicans. There was no red wave. The off-year tradition that usually plays against the party in the White House did not apply. Democrats gained governorships and flipped state legislative bodies.
There were a few bright spots. Republicans gained control of the House by a few seats – nothing close to the anticipated 20 to 30-seat margin. They did remarkably well in Florida and Texas – and in picking up congressional seats in New York and California.
In terms of Trump’s popularity and political capital, the results of the election were disastrous. Virtually every candidate who ran in strong support for Trump – and his perspective on the 2020 election — lost.
In the aftermath, pillars of Trump’s past support began to crumble. News outlets that had been supportive of the past President were among the harshest critics – calling for his removal as the titular head of the Republican Party. Political leaders, who were hitherto in Trump’s camp, are looking past him as a future Party leader.
Assuming that Trump is not delusional, he must know that his chances of returning to the White House are between slim to none. He won on a technicality in 2016 – and that is not likely to happen again. While his decreasing number of diehard loyalists are loud and insistent, they lack the power of numbers required to put Trump back into contention. They are not enough to give Trump the kind of pluralities that enabled him to win primaries against a large field of opponents – and it is unlikely that such a large field (16 competitors to Trump) will happen in 2024
If he understands that, why is he running? His critics across the political spectrum offer the same three-part explanation. He likes to be the center of attention. He wants to keep the fundraising machine operating. He sees running – and being President – as a shield against prosecution. No matter how long the longshot may be, it is better than the loss of public attention and money – and the desperate hope of avoiding being on the wrong side of judges and juries in the myriad of criminal and civil cases that are currently evolving, with potentially more to come.
Perhaps the greatest blow to Trump from the 2022 election results is that he is no longer the person to keep others from running. He is not a pre-emptive candidate. His petulant personality is wearing thin. Knowing he cannot win a General Election – and is unlikely to succeed in the run of Republican primaries – no challenger will be fearful of entering the race. His only slim hope is that a dozen or more will do so — producing déjà vu all over again.
So, there ‘tis.